LUXURY fashion chain Max Mara is to open a flagship Capital store in a major boost to the city’s retail sector.
The Italian firm, a favourite with First Lady Melania Trump, is set to open its first UK outlet outside London on Multrees Walk.
Industry insiders hailed the news as the latest coup in the Capital’s bid to become a retail heavyweight destination.
Steve Spray, a fund manager at Multrees Walk owners LaSalle Investment Management, said: “We are delighted that international fashion brand Max Mara have chosen Multrees Walk for their second UK standalone store after Bond Street.
“With the recent letting to Johnstons of Elgin, this further cements Multrees Walk as the number one luxury goods location outside London and shows that the best retail locations in the best cities continue to thrive.”
Mr Spray heralded a new chapter for the east of the city with a number of recent launches creating a buzz.
“With the opening of Edinburgh St James next year and the transformation of St Andrew Square in recent years with the arrival of Aberdeen Standard, The Mint, The Grand, Gleneagles and Malmaison among others, Edinburgh’s East End is really flying,” he said.
“This is great news for Scotland’s capital, but raises some challenges too and as an investor we think it will be really important for the West End of Princes Street in particular that planning policy is flexible enough to allow in leisure and restaurant uses as the focus of retail inevitably continues its shift eastwards.”
Melania Trump was photographed with designer Rachel Roy at the White House last month sporting a grey Max Mara skirt-suit made of a wool-cashmere blend.
There was less bouyant news as US electric car maker Tesla announced it is to switch to only selling its cars online so it can cut the price of its new mass-market Model 3.
Many showrooms will close as a result, but whether the Multrees Walk branch will be included in any cull remains a mystery.
Chief executive Elon Musk said: “This is the only way to achieve the savings for this car and be financially sustainable. “It is excruciatingly difficult to make this car for $35,000 and be financially sustainable.”
Mr Spray said the future looks bright for Multrees Walk with projected footfall as high as 20 million visitors a year once the St James Centre opens.
“There’s no issues with shops in Multrees Walk, we’ve got lots of demand from retailers. It’s a very positive story and there aren’t many of those in retail in the UK at the moment.”
“With everything happening in St Andrew Square and St James, we’re the link between those two areas.”
Attracting tourists with high-end brands is part of the strategy, with transport links a key element, said Mr Spray.
“Trams are a big part of it,” he added. “Obviously we’ve got the tram stop at St Andrew Square right outside the entrance to Multrees Walk.
“Attracting international tourists, from China and the Far East, is another part of it.”